Only the Strong

Author, Researcher, or Creator

Jabari Asim


Writing, Literature and Publishing


Jabari Asim

Resource Type


Publication, Publisher or Distributor

Agate Bolden

Publication Date


Brief Description

Jabari Asim’s debut novel returns readers to Gateway City, the fictional Midwestern city first explored in his acclaimed short story collection, Taste of Honey. Against a 1970s backdrop of rapid social and political change, Only the Strong portrays the challenges and rewards of love in a quintessential American community where heartbreak and violence are seldom far away.

With prose that's sharp, humorous, and poetic, Asim skillfully renders a compelling portrait of urban life in the wake of the last major civil-rights bill. Massive change is afoot in America, and these characters have front-row seats. "[A] heartfelt, polyphonic ode to 1970s black America. . .Asim manages the highbrow without it ever feeling forced or pedantic—no small feat given the hard-boiled narrative framework, but one made possible by his infectious love for his subject matter and characters." —The Wall Street Journal

"The voices of the characters intertwine, building a narrative that bursts full of life. Here are rich, detailed characters, a vivid setting and a historical epoch made personal and intimate through details of experience. An intelligent, superbly executed and gripping masterpiece." —The Root

"Thoroughly entertaining and stylish. . .deserves favorable comparison to the works of Chester Himes and Walter Mosley." —Publishers Weekly, starred review

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